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Education Lab Blog

Education Lab is a yearlong project to spark meaningful conversations about education solutions in the Pacific Northwest.

April 16, 2014 at 2:30 PM

Quiz: Try out new SAT questions

The College Board has released a series of sample questions for the new SAT, set to roll out in 2016.

Among other changes, the new SAT will do away with obscure vocabulary words, and the essay requirement will become optional. Wrong answers will no longer be penalized.

Curious how the new test stacks up against your recollection of the SAT? Try out a few sample questions in our quiz:

Sample questions from the new SAT

On Wednesday, the College Board released sample questions for the redesigned SAT, set to roll out in 2016. Try your hand at some of the questions by taking our quiz.

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0 Comments | More in News | Topics: SAT, standardized tests

April 16, 2014 at 1:33 PM

Round-up: Food scam costs Edmonds SD thousands, College Board offers glimpse of new SAT

Former food workers cost Edmonds School District thousands (The Herald): A state auditor’s report has uncovered additional expenses in a scam involving former food workers in the Edmonds School District. Investigators now say the two employees billed for 5,276 bogus student meals, receiving $14,774.75 in federally subsidized pay that they never earned.

Eastside voters about to decide second school bond in two months (KING 5): The Lake Washington School District is once again asking voters to approve a bond measure that would provide funding for new schools and expand existing buildings. The $404-million bond is about half the cost of a similar measure that was voted down in February.

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0 Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

April 16, 2014 at 5:00 AM

Suspensions and expulsions: A close look at nine districts

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Screen grab of Washington Appleseed’s preliminary analysis for Seattle Public Schools. Go here for a full resolution version.

Last year, the nonprofit Washington Appleseed had a difficult time finding out exactly how many students are suspended or expelled each year in Washington state.

This year, with more data available from the state, it is putting together a still-incomplete, but much fuller picture, looking at patterns among the roughly 47,500 students suspended or expelled at least once in the 2012-13 school year.

This week, the group released an analysis of discipline data from nine school districts: Bellevue, Edmonds, Federal Way, Marysville, Olympia, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma and Yakima.

Appleseed warns that the numbers are preliminary, so they might contain errors. It also cautions against reading too much into district-by-district comparisons because some districts report differently than others.

One salient example: Federal Way counts all the days expelled students are absent, and other districts do not. That’s why it looks like students in Federal Way miss much more school due to suspensions and expulsions than much bigger districts such as Seattle and Spokane.

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0 Comments | More in News | Topics: discipline

April 15, 2014 at 1:29 PM

Round-up: Enrollments decline at small colleges, Cowlitz County faces substitute-teacher shortage

Small U.S. colleges face declining enrollments (Bloomberg): Many small, private colleges across the U.S. are seeing enrollments decline, leading to a sharp increase in the number of schools experiencing ratings cuts. Some colleges are targeting different student populations, while others are offering bigger financial aid packages in an effort to draw more students.

Cowlitz County confronts shortage of substitute teachers (The Daily News): Schools across Cowlitz County are scrambling to find substitute teachers, with some using principals and uncertified teachers as emergency fill-ins. The Longview School District says its pool of substitute teachers has been depleted by a recent shift to all-day kindergarten and reduced class sizes.

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0 Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

April 15, 2014 at 5:00 AM

More help navigating the college-application obstacle course

Reuben Santos goes over scholarship possibilities with Caroline Sacerdote at Franklin High School's College Access Now office. Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times 2011

Reuben Santos goes over scholarship possibilities with Caroline Sacerdote at Franklin High School’s College Access Now office. Photo by Greg Gilbert / The Seattle Times 2011

Washington’s dismal rate of low-income students enrolling in four-year schools — a stunningly low 18 percent — surprised some who read our Sunday story about college guidance and the lack of help available to many students.

School counselors, it turns out, are not trained in this increasingly complex arena, which could be a major reason behind the low numbers nationally. (Watch this space for another likely contributor to the low rates in Washington.)

Locally, the nonprofit Rainier Scholars provides a powerful answer to about 60 students each year. But the criteria to get in are rigid. You must sign up in fifth grade. You must be a child of color. And you must show academic promise, as determined by Rainier Scholars.

So what if you’re not right for that program? What if you’re a foster kid who’s bounced from school to school for years and doesn’t have great grades?

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0 Comments | More in News | Topics: college readiness, counseling, higher ed

April 14, 2014 at 1:25 PM

Round-up: WSU considers opening med school, Denver hires undocumented teachers

WSU considers opening medical school in Spokane (AP): A projected need for more doctors has prompted Washington State University to consider opening a new medical school at its Spokane campus. Washington currently has one medical school — at the main UW campus in Seattle — and WSU officials say doctor shortages in Eastern Washington are creating an additional need.

Denver schools hire undocumented immigrants as teachers (AP): Denver Public Schools Superintendent Tom Boasberg says his district has hired two teachers who qualified to stay in the U.S. under President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy. ”Anything that touches on immigration generates a level of attention and controversy,” he told the AP. “But for us, this is about finding the very best teachers for our kids.”

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0 Comments | More in News | Topics: round-up

April 14, 2014 at 5:00 AM

New report will measure a degree’s earnings potential

A state agency has gotten money from the Legislature to measure the earnings potential of various degrees, apprenticeships and certificates.

The information, when it becomes available later this year, should help students by pinpointing programs whose graduates are making good money and have a high rate of employment.

The provision was championed by state Rep. Chad Magendanz, R-Issaquah, and gives $46,000 to the state Education Research & Data Center to collect the information from state colleges and universities, as well as workforce training programs.

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0 Comments | More in News | Topics: higher ed

April 13, 2014 at 10:08 PM

Sunday story: Outside guidance helps high-school students get in

Maika Bui, right, a promising student from a low-income neighborhood, has been guided toward college since grade school through the Rainier Scholars program. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

Maika Bui, right, a promising student from a low-income neighborhood, has been guided toward college since grade school through the Rainier Scholars program. Photo by Mike Siegel / The Seattle Times.

OAKLAND —

In the early mornings while driving his mother to her job cleaning houses, Victor Gomez imagined playing baseball on a college campus. It was 6:30 a.m. in America’s third-most violent city, and he would soon head to class at a high school better known for shootings than scholarship.

Yet against all odds, Victor and several dozen of his classmates will walk onto university campuses next fall, a milestone due not to stellar grades or soaring athletic potential but, instead, the work of another young man hired to create life-changing opportunities where school staff cannot.

Eight hundred miles away, in South Seattle, Maika Bui also might have settled for far less than her abilities warrant, if not for a flier she saw in fifth grade, advertising college preparation. She stuffed it into her backpack and brought the paperwork home from Roxhill Elementary School seven years ago.

Go here for the full story.

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0 Comments | More in News | Topics: counseling, higher ed

April 12, 2014 at 7:20 PM

Guest: Give counselors the opportunity to develop skills, network together

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Jenée Myers Twitchell

High-school guidance counselors are often misunderstood, unappreciated, and not treated as educational leaders. Like teachers, principals and central office leaders, they ought to be held to high expectations and provided professional development that attends to their ever-changing roles.

Guidance counselors take on all the following challenges: supporting socio-emotional growth, teaching healthy living, parent-teacher-student mediation, discipline enforcement, and college and career readiness, among other duties.

But even in the best master’s degree programs, they rarely get a single day covering the last topic, college and career readiness. As one of my counselor colleagues says: “The sky might fall if there were actually an entire course devoted to college readiness support.”

Yet, by 2020, 70 percent of the jobs in Washington state will require a college degree or career credential. Meanwhile, the number of low-income students, whose first language is not English, or who are ethnic minorities, is rising. These students possess amazing assets. They also face significant challenges. Filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (or the new WASFA) can be worse than filing taxes.

In these students’ schools, who figures out whether they need to take Spanish if they already speak Amharic fluently? Who makes sure they file the FAFSA so that they can afford to pay for the new Bachelor’s of Applied Science degree at South Seattle College? Increasingly, this is expected of the high-school guidance counselor.

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0 Comments | More in Guest opinion, Opinion | Topics: college counseling, Dream Project, Jenee Myers Twitchell

April 12, 2014 at 7:00 PM

In their own words: Students talk about high-school counseling, applying to college

Education Lab’s latest story focuses on the changing role of high-school guidance counselors. As traditional counselors’ face increased workloads, programs like Seattle’s Rainier Scholars and the National College Advising Corps are providing disadvantaged students with one-on-one assistance as they navigate the college application process.

We recently asked several students — some from Rainier Scholars, some from the National College Advising Corps and some who have worked with traditional counselors — to tell us what they’ve experienced as they apply to college.

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0 Comments | More in News, Your voices | Topics: college counseling, higher ed, National College Advising Corps

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